A Tour of Our Garden Grove

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plan of the garden groveOur Garden Grove is designed to make good use of our property–its shape and slope and soil–and to benefit from the dynamic interplay at the edges – an edge of the driveway, the building, the berm, and the plants themselves.

The trees, shrubs, and flowers we are planting have been chosen to harvest the potential of our land. The plants will be producing food, improving biodiversity, cleansing toxins, mitigating erosion and floods, calming wind, creating sacred groves and special spaces, and opening in bloom a welcome to all.

The trenches already dug in the Garden Grove outline the pathways and the central lawn, and set the boundaries for the four quadrants–one at each cardinal direction of the compass. Let’s take a tour.

Apricot Arbor (look for the red arrow on picture)

Along the path that begins at the foot of the berm and leads toward the circular lawn in the center, six apricot trees will be planted, three on each side. Reaching 20 feet tall and about 15 feet across, they will branch out and reach for each other. In years to come, we will be able to walk beneath of an arbor archway of petals in the spring. Beneath these trees we plan to plant small cranberry bushes next year.

North Quadrant – Walnut Trees and Food As we walk between the apricot trees, to our left is the north quadrant. It is designed to be our most dense food forest, for it possesses the richest soil, is close to our building, and does not obstruct the view from the road.

Two mature walnut trees already provide the canopy layer. Middle-height species (such as mulberry and pawpaw trees) are planted around the walnut trees at their drip line, the place where the shadows of leaves dance in the grass. Understory species such as gooseberry fit between the mulberry and pawpaw, and more mid-story trees and large shrubs (service berry, cherry, pear, wild plum) are planted at the drip line of the mulberry and pawpaw.

West Quadrant – Pear From the apricot arbor, to our right is the west quadrant. Its canopy tree is a pear, and beneath it are cherry and persimmon, pruned like orchard trees, then beech plum and serviceberry. Shrubs such as elders and chokeberries and ninebark help prevent erosion at the foot of the concrete culvert that drains water from our paved areas into the garden grove.

The Central Lawn At the end of the Apricot Arbor, we come to the central lawn, a grassy circle 60 feet across. The space is intended for festivals, gatherings, and playing games. The path to our left leads to our neighbor’s land, and on either side of the path will be bushes and shrubs rich in food: beech plum, elderberry, black chokeberry, and golden currant. Imagine walking along grassy paths where berries and fruits line the way, and butterflies and bees alight on flowers.

Hedge Row and Hazelnuts At the edge of our property, where the neighboring lawn meets ours, we’ll plant a hedge row of hazelnut, black chokeberry, witch hazel, and American beauty berry, with a few pawpaw trees.

We’ll also create a hazelnut meditation grove at the end of the path. The mowed space inside the trenches will fan out to a small circle, and we aim to set stones and perhaps benches on the circumference of that circle, so that people can sit and talk, crack hazelnuts, meditate, and enjoy the grove within a grove.

East Quadrant – Red Mulberry and Pears Between the Hazelnut Grove and Nashville Road lies the Eastern Quadrant. A red mulberry tree canopy overlooks pear, service berry, and wild plum near the center lawn. On other side of the mulberry tree are silky dogwood and button bush. Past them, near the base of sign hill and the slopes beneath Nashville Road, will be American beauty berry, false indigo, and spice bush.

These native shrubs and flowers provide food and habitat for pollinators, such as the spicebush butterfly.

South Quadrant – Persimmon Trees In the south quadrant, which is in the corner between our driveway and Nashville Road, will be more of those colorful shrubs, plus witch hazel, nine-bark, aromatic sumac, and smooth sumac. They’ll help stabilize the holes developing from the erosion on the slope and also mitigate contaminants that wash down from the road. Along the driveway edge are elderberries, chokeberries, and currants make a shrub-line edge.

The canopy trees for the South Quadrant are two persimmons. This species has male and female trees, and we need more than one to ensure production of fruits. Beneath the persimmon are middle- height service berries, pruned persimmons, and cherries.

But mostly we’ll keep this quadrant open for visibility, so that you can see into open layers of variegated flowers and fruits in our garden grove and on to our church in the distance.

Berry Lane We can leave the garden grove along the southwest path (look for blue arrow on picture). It’s lined with currants, elderberries, chokeberries, service berries, and two pruned persimmons that reach about double the shrubs’ height.

Suggestions? Questions? Contact the Ecological Land Ministry Team at elm@uubgky.org

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